Woman Claims Priest Tried to Rape Her As Child


August 15, 2008

WILMINGTON, Del. (WBOC/AP)- A 56-year-old Delaware woman has filed a lawsuit claiming she was abused by a priest when she was a child, and that another priest intervened when her tormentor tried to rape her on a beach.

Attorneys filed the lawsuit Friday in Sussex County Superior Court on behalf of Mary Dougherty against the Diocese of Wilmington and Holy Rosary Church.

Dougherty, a divorced mother of two daughters, charges that beginning in approximately the summer of 1966, the Rev. Leonard J. Mackiewicz, her Catholic Youth Organization director and a long-time Boy Scout chaplain, began to sexually abuse her in the church basement, at CYO events, and on CYO trips, among other places.

The lawsuit alleges that the sexual abuse culminated later that summer when during a CYO trip to the Indian River Inlet Mackiewicz violently tackled her as she walked on the beach, attacked her, choked her, and almost killed her as he violently tried to rape her while yelling the words

"This is power, bitch!" According to the lawsuit, Dougherty was eventually saved when the Rev. Leonard Kempski came to her rescue and pulled Mackiewicz off of her while Mackiewicz tried to rip off her bathing suit.

The lawsuit claims that while Mackiewicz died in 1994, Kempski has repeatedly apologized to Dougherty and members of her family as recently as 2004 for not coming to her rescue sooner that day.

Dougherty says the sexual abuse only ended when at age 13, she confronted Mackiewicz in the church confessional and threatened to kill him if he ever came near her again.

Dougherty also charges that Mackiewicz was a serial child abuser who did not discriminate on the basis of gender when victimizing young children throughout his 30-year career. The lawsuit alleges that he also sexually abused at least four other women and two males between the ages of 11-15 at Holy Rosary.

Additionally at least three other persons were sexually abused by him in other Boy Scout or church assignments, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit claims he was finally removed from active ministry in 1987 but allowed to retire as a priest in good standing.

"Throughout his 30-year career as a Diocesan priest, Mackiewicz was transferred from parish to parish in an effort to cover up his abuse of numerous young boys and girls, for a total of 10 different parishes and 14 different assignments," said Dougherty's attorney Stephen J. Neuberger.

Bob Krebs, a spokesman for the diocese, declined to comment on the lawsuit.


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